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For Grades K-4 , week of Aug. 15, 2016

1. Basketball Gold

The Summer Olympics competition is in full swing this week in the South American city of Rio de Janeiro, and the U.S. women’s basketball team is shooting to win its sixth straight Olympic gold medal. Before the Olympics the team had run up 41-game winning streak in international competition (58-3 overall). U.S. women’s coach Geno Auriemma says this year’s team may be his best yet. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about performances of the U.S. women’s national basketball team in the Summer Olympics. Use what you read to write a sports story for the newspaper, predicting who will be the key player for the U.S. women’s team in Olympic competition.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

2. Planet Has Triple Sunsets

Astronomers have discovered a planet that has three suns in the sky, which gives it three sunsets and three sunrises much of the time. The planet has been named HD 131399Ab, and it is a giant some 320 light years away in the constellation Centaurus. One of the three suns is twice as massive as the Earth’s sun. The planet is made of gases, and it takes it about 550 Earth years to orbit its main sun. For half that trip, when the suns are close together, it experiences triple sunsets and sunrises. For the other half, it’s in constant daylight because the suns rise and set at different times and there’s always one in the sky. With telescopes and space missions, scientists are learning more about the universe and our solar system. With family or friends, use the newspaper or Internet to closely read a story about a space mission or space discovery. Use what you read to draw a series of comic strips showing what scientists have discovered and why they think it is important.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic.

3. ‘Remarkable Bond’ of Twins

In Akron, Ohio, twins Jenna and Jillian Thistlethwaite were born two years ago holding hands, and ever since then they “always take care of each other,” their mother says. Doctors are amazed at their remarkable bond. If one is crying, mom Sarah Thistlethwaite says, “the other will try to find a way to comfort her” by seeking a pacifier or rubbing her back or “offering a hug.” The twins were born with a rare and risky condition through an operation known as Caesarean section. Two years later, her parents say, they are “really close … like peas in a pod.” People who are close friends often do special things for each other. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about friends doing something special for each other. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, urging people in your community to do special things for others. Include why this would make the community a better place.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

4. More Fruits & Veggies!

Fewer than 15 percent of U.S. adults eat enough fruits each day to meet federal recommendations, researchers for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found. Even fewer eat enough vegetables. In some states, as few as 7.5 percent of adults are eating enough fruits. Fruits and vegetables “can protect against many leading causes of illnesses and death,” the CDC emphasizes. And how should people get the fruit they need? In its Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the CDC recommends whole fruit rather than fruit juice, and fruits and vegetables with limited amounts of added sugars and solid fat. Fruits and vegetables come in all shapes and sizes and have lots of different names. On a sheet of paper, write out the letters of the alphabet. Then use the newspaper and Internet to find grocery store ads. See how many fruits and vegetables you can find to match the letters of the alphabet and list them. What were the most unusual names? Use your list to write a short rhyming poem about eating fruits and vegetables.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; organizing data using concrete objects, pictures, tallies, tables, charts, diagrams and graphs; demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.

5. ‘M&Ms’ to Save Ferrets

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is testing the use of drone aircraft to shoot special candies into the Montana habitat of the black-footed ferret. The goal is to immunize the animals against a disease that is endangering the species. The candies are like “M&Ms smeared in vaccine-laden peanut butter,” the wildlife service says, and they should help the ferrets avoid a disease called sylvatic plague. The treated candies will also help protect prairie dogs, which can get the plague themselves and are a food source for the ferrets. Only 300 black-footed ferrets are estimated to be left in the United States, and environmentalists say the “plague is a primary obstacle to [their] recovery.” Providing medicine to ferrets through candy is an example of people trying new things to help wild animals. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about people doing something to help a wild animal species. Use what you read to create a simple website to provide information about the effort. Design the home page to show categories of information you want to highlight. Pick an image to illustrate each category. Then write headlines and text blocks to briefly explain each category.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.